Earth-Shaking News: Money Can Buy Happiness

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According to the old saying, money does not buy happiness?except if one's English. Researchers at the University of Warwick, led by Prof. Andrew Oswald and Dr. Jonathan Gardner, studied 9000 families in Britain throughout the 90s, and guess what. "We found there was a strong link between having money fall upon you and being happy," said the (useless) professor.

Before I go on about money, remind me never to give any of it to Warwick U. Surely there must be a better way to use researchers than to have them ask a lot of stupid questions of a lot of stupid people. The conclusion was even more earth-shaking than the findings: "We think it is that money buys autonomy and independence." Give them the Nobel for that one.

Further waste of time and money by Warwick U. established the fact that while receiving an inheritance or winning the lottery can improve the recipient's outlook on life, "We calculated that to turn a really unhappy person into a very happy person using money alone would take about one million pounds." The geniuses also found out that people who can control their own worlds and destinies are much happier.

What I'd like to know is whose idea this was. Ten years to find out something any poor man, say our very own George Szamuely, could have told them in a jiffy. Oh yes, I almost forgot. The geniuses also discovered that women tend to be happier than men. "We don't know why that is," said Prof. Oswald. Well, a good guess would be that women end up getting all the moolah, and that makes them much happier than those poor dumb bastards who slave away and then drop dead. Just call me Prof. Taki.

Sigmund Freud, oddly enough, was among the most recent soi-disant wise men to have contributed to the ridiculous notion that money can't buy happiness. Happiness, he said, is the adult fulfillment of childhood dreams, and children, he said, do not dream of money. Ergo, money does not buy happiness. As usual, Freud steers us wrong. Gore Vidal knows better. Vidal, who was comfortably ensconced as a leftish bon vivant long before the terms "limousine liberal" and "radical chic" were invented, knows full well that the truly rich, like blondes, have more fun. Indeed, he once added, if the poor were ever to find out how much fun the rich really have, they would probably rise up and kill them all.

In my experience, rich people are just like poor people. Some are terrific shits, others are terribly nice. One simply cannot generalize. Stavros Niarchos, the biggest and richest Greek shipowner, was as awful a person as one could come across. He was suspicious, screamed at underlings and treated women with contempt. For some warped reason I liked him, and after his death in 1996 I was proved right. He left half of his multibillion-dollar fortune to a foundation that helps humanity. As did his great enemy, the charming Aristotle Socrates Onassis. Then you have Gianni Agnelli, one of the world's richest men, and as wonderful a person as one can hope to meet. Gianni is extremely intelligent, probably the most charming person ever, civilized, well-read, generous, a war hero and very handsome. Agnelli is as nice to underlings as Niarchos was beastly. The difference, according to Prof. Taki, is that Niarchos hustled his way to the top, Agnelli inherited his right as top banana. Manners, or the lack of, have a lot to do with how one treats his fellow human beings.

Funny, but I can't think of any poor people who are truly ghastly. Yet I know a hell of a lot of extremely rich people who are both horrible as well as truly unhappy. Hollywood has always produced its share of grotesque multimillionaires, and the present is no exception. I am told that one would have to look very far to find as big a shit as David Geffen, and that five minutes away from him is like a month in the country. I also hear that Michael Bloomberg is no prize, but then nice guys finish last.

Well, I'm not so sure. There is always divine punishment, as no one has ever dared to suggest that those who marry for money have not earned it. Perhaps Warwick U. should have the researchers ask questions of those who have lotsa moolah. That would be far more interesting than having some young whippersnapper fill out a form saying that, Yes, I could do with one and a half big ones and my mood would improve. When I used to gamble, it was all or nothing. I lost my house in London once, a house that today would be easily worth $10 million. I was obviously upset, but not really. After my father's death I stopped gambling. The thrill was gone. The euphoria of making money was only there when money made a difference of lifestyle. One thing I've never understood about the rich is the drive to make more money after they're long past trying to spend the interest on the interest. I suppose it is the curse of always looking over their shoulder to compare themselves.

Lily Safra, a true horror, married three very rich men, one uglier than the next, obviously for the root of all envy. I would have thought she would have grabbed the first bundle and settled down with a good-looking beach bum. Not our Lily. My great buddy Porfirio Rubirosa, dead since 1965, at least married rich women, took their money and divorced them, and then married beautiful impoverished youngsters. Now that's where money can bring happiness.

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